Categorized | Sports

Longest Yard

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Trojan quarterback Eldon Tyms is under pressure from a Germantown lineman last Friday night.

GERMANTOWN — Most football games come down to the battle of the line of scrimmage.

Friday night at the 1-yard line at the south end of the Germantown Football Stadium, all those in attendance would see that conflict play out to decide the Class 6A State Second Round contest between the host Red Devils and visiting Millington Trojans.

With the Trojans ahead 23-17 in overtime, the Red Devils had one play to try to tie and win the game. Germantown made enough room at the line of scrimmage on fourth down to squeeze running back Damon Cox into the end zone. Chris Little’s extra point split the uprights giving the Red Devils a 24-23 victory and a date this Friday against the unbeaten Whitehaven Tigers.

“I’m proud of them, fourth and one in overtime,” Germantown Head Coach Charlie White said. “You’ve got to get it done and they did. I’m very proud of the offensive line. I’m proud of our defense and the assistant coaches with the job they’ve done.”

It took a team effort to beat the Trojans. Millington jumped ahead 7-0 early in the game when Germantown fumbled on its first offensive play of the contest. The Trojans marched down the short field leading to a Cazzie Foster touchdown run.

It seemed for a moment the Trojans were going to jump ahead 14-0 when Millington defensive back Myron Threlkeld recovered a fumble and returned the ball to the 13-yard line.

But Millington’s offense stalled and the Trojans missed a 24-yard field goal. That series seemed to switch the momentum to the Red Devils.

Germantown used the running of Cox and Justin Roberson to build a 17-7 halftime lead. Robertson tied the game in the second quarter running to the outside for a 9-yard TD.

After a 29-yard field gave Germantown a 10-7 advantage, Roberson scored on another 9-yard run with 2 minutes and 54 seconds remaining in the half.

“We felt pretty good at halftime,” White said. “We were moving the ball. The defense played good. We knew Millington was a very good football team. They got an awfully good running back. They just took it to us in the second half. We’re just glad to be where we are right now.”

That pretty good running back was Antonio Webber. The senior Trojan didn’t start the game battling several leg injuries.

But after a few carries in the first half, Webber warmed up helping Millington conduct a long, time-killing drive in the third quarter.

The Trojan mixed in runs from Foster and senior quarterback Allen Moore. Webber broke a couple of big runs of more than 10 yards setting up his own 1-yard TD with one second left in the period.

The fourth quarter opened with Millington trailing 17-14. It was the Trojans defense that gave them a chance to tie the contest.

Millington (6-6) scored 10 points off turnovers in the game. Germantown’s final giveaway of the night came when Trojan Johnathan Patterson leaped in the air and tipped a Samuel Martin pass. Martin caught the ball himself and tried to advance.

But he fumbled and the Trojans recovered at the 29 yard line. Two minutes later Millington place kicker Travis Bell drilled a 30 yard field to even the score at 17-17.

Both defense kept the end zones clear for the final 7 minutes and 47 seconds of regulation. Then it was time for overtime with both teams getting a possession at the 10-yard line.

Millington won the toss and went on offense first. Webber made two runs with the second being a 1-yard touchdown.

The Red Devils (9-3) used their size in the middle of the line to rise up and block the extra point. The Trojans were ahead 23-17.

Then it was time for Germantown to go on offense. After two plays failed to gain a yard, Martin found one of his receivers down at the 1-yard line.

The Red Devils faced a fourth and one. The do-or-die play went into the hands of Cox. The senior fought his way over the goal line to tie the game. And the extra point was good ending the 2012 season of the Trojans.

“Tonight both teams fought hard to the end,” Millington Head Coach Chris Michael said. “We had our chance to win it. We just came up a little short. This season was a success. We wanted to go further. We thought we could win this game tonight. And we could have won this game tonight.

“But with what they accomplished through all the adversity unlike any other football team, they picked themselves up every Monday and came to work,” he added. “They continued to fight and gave themselves a chance all the way up to the last season of this game. I’m just proud of this football team, more than any other I’ve been associated with.”

The Trojans navigated their way through a 6-6 season with two quarterbacks being injuried, facing a schedule loaded with playoff teams and dealing with the death of a teammate. Days before the season opener, the Trojans lost Dana Payne because of an injury suffered in practice.

Days after beating Kirby in the opener, Millington had to bury their teammate.

“We kind of projected coming in with youth and a lot of new stuff going on, inexperience in a lot of positions,” Michael recalled, “a limited number of seniors coming back and with the tradgey at the beginning of the season, I’m sure I’ll look back and say, ‘Man we overachieved. Our kids just fought all the way through.’”

Michael said his team could have given up against Germantown trailing by 10 points on the road. But once gain his Trojans fought back.

“On the field, I’ll just remember all the great plays, all the times we were down and the kids fought back,” he said. “They got us back in the games. We didn’t win some of those games. My team never laid down. They never quit. We did the best we could preparing them. But they would go out there and play hard until the end. And that’s just on the field and everyday at practice.

“With this team I’ll remember those two days after Dana passed that we spent in the auditorium together crying, grieving and loving on each other — just being brothers to each other,” Michael concluded, “being a family like you can’t imagine. I’ll remember those days more than any of these games or Friday nights.”

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